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The Spur Question
02-06-2018, 09:14 PM
Post: #31
RE: The Spur Question
Did anyone say the flag came down with Booth?
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02-07-2018, 04:59 AM
Post: #32
RE: The Spur Question
On April 15, 1865, eyewitness James S. Knox said that, "Just after the third act, and before the scenes were shifted, a muffled pistol shot was heard, and a man sprang wildly from the national box, partially tearing down the flag, then shouting 'sic semper tyrannus, the south is avenged,' with brandished dagger rushed across the stage and disappeared."

I am not entirely sure what he meant by "partially tearing down the flag." Possibly the flag became disarranged, but did not come all the way down to the stage floor?
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02-07-2018, 10:07 AM
Post: #33
RE: The Spur Question
(02-07-2018 04:59 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  On April 15, 1865, eyewitness James S. Knox said that, "Just after the third act, and before the scenes were shifted, a muffled pistol shot was heard, and a man sprang wildly from the national box, partially tearing down the flag, then shouting 'sic semper tyrannus, the south is avenged,' with brandished dagger rushed across the stage and disappeared."

I am not entirely sure what he meant by "partially tearing down the flag." Possibly the flag became disarranged, but did not come all the way down to the stage floor?

Well I would interpret that as adding credence to J.Beckert's assertion that the flag was tacked up under the bunting displaying, "it's large hand painted eagle". "Partially tearing down the flag" would mean that only one of the two tacks was dislodged by Booth.

Flags are made of light material so they can flutter in the breeze. Since Booth's spur went through the bottom seam of the flag like a knife through butter, I would speculate that the flag had no effect at all on Booth's landing. It gave way easily and did not affect his balance or cause him to fall when he hit the stage.

I know this puts me at odds with people who believe that the flag caused the broken leg but the evidence is what it is.
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02-07-2018, 10:23 AM
Post: #34
RE: The Spur Question
At least one account stated that a piece of the flag was trailing from his spur after he got to his feet. Goode's book has some very vivid accounts that mention the flag.

"There are few subjects that ignite more casual, uninformed bigotry and condescension from elites in this nation more than Dixie - Jonah Goldberg"
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02-07-2018, 08:37 PM
Post: #35
RE: The Spur Question
Here is what I remember on researching the Ford's Theatre spur and the spur at the USNA at Annapolis.

Ford's spur. When Mr. Oldroyd did his first BERT, he visited with Frankie Mudd. Upon the close of their meeting, Mr. Oldroyd asked Mrs. Mudd if she had anything from that memorable event. She mentioned that they had a spur, but had given it to a neighbor. She gave Mr. Oldroyd the name and where the neighbor lived, (maybe a Gardner). Oldroyd met the owner of the spur and persueded them to part with the spur for $50.00. The spur on display is an 1858 cavalry spur. My personal belief is that the Mudd's neighbor saw a quick opportunity to make some quick money.

The Annapolis spur came from the family of a soldier who was at Ford's on the night of the assassination. When Booth fell to the stage, he apparently broke a spur's leather strap. This soldier is supposed to have picked up the stage and kept it as a momento.
Two problems here. Apparently a spur did come off Booth's boot onto the stage. It was turned into the Metropolitan Police that same night and was illustrated in a newspaper within the next week or so. Also, I was contacted by a self proclaimed "spur expert" a number of years ago. I believe this expert probably knew more about spurs than anyone alive. He had visited the USNA museum a couple of days after me, and he said that the spur was an 1880's english manufactured spur.

I have to conclude that neither if the two known spurs were Booth's.
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02-08-2018, 12:29 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2018 12:33 PM by JMadonna.)
Post: #36
RE: The Spur Question
(02-07-2018 10:23 AM)J. Beckert Wrote:  At least one account stated that a piece of the flag was trailing from his spur after he got to his feet. Goode's book has some very vivid accounts that mention the flag.

I would tend to be skeptical of that account. If Jim is correct the spur would have come off when Booth landed so he would have not been able to trail it when he got to his feet. However, it could be verified simply by looking at the flag and determine if any part of it is missing or if the spur made a clean slice.

Did anyone actually witness Booth's landing? Did he land on his feet, did he tumble after the landing or did he land and fall on his face?
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02-08-2018, 01:45 PM
Post: #37
RE: The Spur Question
Here is part of James P. Ferguson's testimony at the conspiracy trial (from Poore). Ferguson was sitting in the dress circle on the opposite side from the State Box.

Q. Did you hear any other exclamation besides “Sic semper tyrannis”?

A. I heard some one halloo out of the box,—I do not know that it was him; I suppose it was, though; it must have been,—“Revenge for the South!” just as he was putting his foot over this railing. There was a post there, and the President was right in the corner; and he jumped in between the President and the post. Just as he went over the box, I saw the President raise his head; and then it hung back, and I saw Mrs. Lincoln catch him on the arm. I was satisfied then that he was hurt. By that time, Booth was across the stage.

Q. Did Booth’s spur catch in the flag?

A. His spur caught in the flag that was stretched around the box. There was also a flag decorating this post. His spur caught in the blue part of it. I thought it was a State flag at first by the looks of it; but I saw afterwards, when I examined it, that it was the blue part of the American flag. As he went over, his spur caught in the molding that ran round the edge of the box, and also in this flag, and tore a piece of the flag as he struck on the stage; and it was dragged half-way across the stage on his spur. I saw that the spur was on his right heel.
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02-08-2018, 04:01 PM
Post: #38
RE: The Spur Question
This has always been so confusing to me because (in my feeble brain) Ferguson seems to have Booth being caught up in both the American flag bunting that was draped around the balustrade and then the Treasury Guards flag and also on wooden molding. At that rate, it's a wonder that Booth didn't take part of Mary Lincoln's dress with him when he jumped!!
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02-08-2018, 04:02 PM
Post: #39
RE: The Spur Question
Roger,

As we know, Ferguson provided a sworn statement in the Peterson House shortly after midnight (probably approximately 12:45 A.M. or 1:00 A.M.). Interestingly enough, Tanner identifies him as James C. Ferguson.

However, according to the Tanner manuscript, Ferguson said:
"As he jumped over he pulled part of a state flag off & had part of it under his feet when he fell on the stage."

With a month, or so, of time passing between the Tanner statement and his trial testimony, Ferguson's story seems to be somewhat consistent.

Bob
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02-08-2018, 04:03 PM
Post: #40
RE: The Spur Question
The images taken of the president's box were taken a few days later by Matthew Brady to recreate the look of the area on the night of the assassination. One of the best close up images of the box is in Twenty Days, pages 22-23. The Treasury Guards flag is on a pole in front of the center column between the boxes. However, the caption for the image says "on the night of the assassination the flag was staffless and was draped across the outside of the box just below the two American flags, displaying its great handpainted eagle." Photo credit is from the Meserve Collection in New York which may be the origin of the above quote. I also believe the upper right corner of the picture frame for the Washington image was nicked by JWB's spur. I believe that frame and image is on display in Fords Theatre. JWB, swinging his leg over the railing of the box facing to his left, could easily catch his spur on the corner of the picture frame and then catch the spur on the flag hanging below the box thus ripping the flag. I do not recall testimony that the flag was pulled down. I want to believe this is the way it happened. Of course, there are many conflicting descriptions of JWB coming over the railing and out of the box but I think such an exit is plausible and likely.
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02-08-2018, 05:12 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2018 05:17 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #41
RE: The Spur Question
Secret film released of John Wilkes Booth practicing for jumping over the railing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOcTaU2_F1g

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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02-08-2018, 08:49 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2018 08:54 PM by JMadonna.)
Post: #42
RE: The Spur Question
(02-08-2018 04:01 PM)L Verge Wrote:  This has always been so confusing to me because (in my feeble brain) Ferguson seems to have Booth being caught up in both the American flag bunting that was draped around the balustrade and then the Treasury Guards flag and also on wooden molding. At that rate, it's a wonder that Booth didn't take part of Mary Lincoln's dress with him when he jumped!!


Agreed, her pantaloons would have made a good parachute, but according to his 'examination' Booth caught the blue of the American flag. This should have been easily verifiable by examining the American flag. Why is that flag not on display?

And how did Booth land?
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02-08-2018, 10:15 PM
Post: #43
RE: The Spur Question
Just a comment re Brady's photograph ... I recall when visiting New York a few years back seeing an exhibition of Civil War memorabilia. Somewhere I read that photographers of that time were known to re-arrange the battlefield scenes (and bodies, I'm afraid) to suit a "better" picture. I obviously have no idea if Brady did this or if he the curtain etc in the theatre had been tidied up.


“In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again.” James Agee.
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02-09-2018, 09:11 AM
Post: #44
RE: The Spur Question
(02-08-2018 10:15 PM)AussieMick Wrote:  Just a comment re Brady's photograph ... I recall when visiting New York a few years back seeing an exhibition of Civil War memorabilia. Somewhere I read that photographers of that time were known to re-arrange the battlefield scenes (and bodies, I'm afraid) to suit a "better" picture. I obviously have no idea if Brady did this or if he the curtain etc in the theatre had been tidied up.

Brady was known for rearranging his subjects on the battlefields. I believe that I read somewhere that one of his most famous scenes is the "staged" one of the dead in Devil's Den at Gettysburg.

In the case of Ford's, I believe the object was to return the scene to what it would have been at the moment of the assassination for the 1865 version of CSI?? Forum member Wesley Harris will be speaking on the subject of investigation of the crime at that time - what was done right and what was done wrong - at the Surratt conference in April.
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02-09-2018, 04:16 PM
Post: #45
RE: The Spur Question
Indeed the Devil's Den scene with bodies strewn all over the rocks was staged. Some publications still today consider that as an actual scene which it is definitely not.

I have also seen an image of the "mark" supposedly left by JWB's heel in the covering of the stage. Since the only images were taken by Brady, there must be an enlargement somewhere of that portion of the stage. I'm sure I have seen one, but where???
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